Mental Health Activities For Families While Travelling
Disclosure: Love To Travel, Stay-Eat-Do are not medical professionals. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please seek professional help immediately by contacting your local medical practitioner, Lifeline or phoning 000 if in Australia.
Taking time out from everyday life is essential in anyone’s life. We all lead such busy lives – from work and school, out of hours and after school commitments, household chores, meeting financial commitments, getting food on the table and so much more. It very easy to get caught up in everything and so important that we make the time to stop (or at least slow down) and refocus on our and our mental health.
What is the meaning of Mental Health?
According to the World Health Organisation, Mental Health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Let us break it down…
“…every individual realises his or her own potential” – meaning, every person can see and appreciate their own value and their worth.
“…[every individual] can cope with the normal stresses of life” – meaning, a person can go about everyday tasks essential to life as they know it.
“…[every individual] can work productively and fruitfully” – meaning, people can work in their chosen occupation with purpose and get the job done effectively.
“…[every individual] is able to make a contribution to her or his community” – meaning, that every person is able to make a contribution to the people or community around them in a positive way. This may be as simple as interacting with others through gestures or acknowledgement.
Why is Mental Health so important and why we should aspire to have good Mental Health?
Mental health impacts on the way we all think, feel and act. Having good mental health, enables people to live a stable life, make well considered decisions, function daily and feel comfortable in oneself.
Having good mental health is just as important as having good physical, social, environmental, spiritual or emotional health. In fact, all types of health work in conjunction with one another. A person does not a full bill of health, if they are not considered to have good health in all aspects.
Mental Health activities for families while travelling
Travelling can be hard work at times, it is not all fairy tales like we all imagine and dream it to be. It is hard on parents and it is equally as hard on kids. Some days are more difficult than others and it is important to remember that everyone will have good and bad days; and, often they will be on different days to one another. It is so important for families to have strategies that can be used to maintain good mental health while travelling.
Find a book you love and escape into its world. Reading is not only an important skill to have, but it is also very calming and slow paced. Find a comfortable and quiet spot to sit and read. Immerse yourself in your book for any given time and take a break from what is going on around you.
Colouring or crafting
Our kids love to colour and craft. We always have colouring books and pencils on hand, on any trip. Whether it is for the car, the aeroplane, campground or in a hotel room, it is a great quiet activity that is great for the minds of all. In fact, I don’t go on a holiday without my colouring book and pencils either!
Craft is a little more difficult on the road, however, we have found a great activity that the kids love – making pom poms!
Puzzles are a great activity (and sometimes slightly annoying and addictive all at the same time) to completely take your mind off things. If you are patient enough to sit and immerse yourself in a puzzle, it can be a great way to ease the mind.
If you’re holidaying in a hotel or bnb, having a puzzle to keep you occupied is easy enough. If you are moving around or camping, you might like to buy a puzzle mat, so that you can roll it up, without it being damaged.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness and meditation help you focus on being in the moment. It can help with your focus and concentration, confidence and awareness, reduce stress and manage anxiety and so much more. Ultimately, mindfulness and meditation has great benefits to your physical and mental health.
Travelling can bring about stressors that you never knew existed. While travel is brilliant in so many ways, it is certainly more challenging for some than others.
Mindfulness is so important and when you’re travelling you have great opportunities to do this really well. Being mindful is about being present with where you are in any given moment. Be consciously in the moment, with the people you are with, in the activity you are doing or the experience you are having.
If you need help learning to be mindful or meditate, there are lots of great apps you can use for free or buy online. No one meditation will suit every single person, so you may need to try a few different ones out, before you feel comfortable. The key is, don’t give up!
Exercise for Mental Health
We all know that exercise has great benefits to your physical health, what some people fail to realise is that exercise is actually essential for maintaining good mental health.
Exercise can reduce anxiety and stress, improve negative mood, self esteem and cognitive function.
If you are feeling down and need a little pick-me-up, there really is nothing better than doing a little bit of exercise. Go for a 20 minute walk or a light jog, throw a ball with your kids, take them on a bike ride; you simply need to move your body!
Relationships and communication
Maintaining positive relationships while travelling is essential. Without good communication, relationships fall apart. It is important to consciously work on your relationship with each person in your travelling tribe. Whether it is your partner or your children, you should take the time to spend with each person and foster a positive relationship.
Create moments, have conversations, ask questions, challenge one another and most importantly encourage one another. Travelling can be really difficult if communication between all parties, is down.
Get amongst nature
One of the best things about travelling, is getting out and exploring. In fact, when you travel, you probably do get out amongst nature more than you might if you were at home. Take the time to conscious explore nature, sit among trees, watch waves crash on the sand, breathe in fresh air. Nature does wonders for the soul.
Write a journal
Writing a travel journal is a great way to keep track of all the adventures you go on, places you see, attractions you visit. You can record memorable moments, funny things that happen and how you felt during your trip. It’s a great activity for children too and an excellent exercise in gratitude.
A journal to record your memories is one thing, but journelling (writing a journal) itself, is a great way to get your thoughts out of your mind. Take the time to write a gratitude journal every day, write the things that have made you most happy and if you’ve had frustrations, write them down too. Be honest with your feelings and express yourself openly in your writing.
Some people like to fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants when they travel, for others that is just not they way they work. It may depend on where you are travelling or whether you are bound by time restrictions. Whatever it might be, knowing what your parameters are and planning for them will do you absolute wonders when you are travelling.
If you are bound by time, it’s a great idea to plan, here are some quick tips:
- create schedule
- plan what activities you want to see
- plan which places you want to visit
- plan your length of stay based on what you want to do in each town
If your stresses are financially related, because let’s face it, we’re all on some sort of budget – plan ahead to save money for your next holiday and while you’re traveling, follow these top tips for budget holidays.
Give to others
There really is something great about giving to others. There are so many ways that we can give to others and it really does make you feel good. The beauty of this one is that you can literally be anywhere in the world and you can still give to others. Here are some great ways to do it:
- Let someone else go in front of you in a line
- Allow someone else to be served first
- Show someone where to go if they are lost
- Buy someone a coffee
- Lend a hand to someone in need
- Talk to someone who needs a listening ear
- Lend a book to someone to read
- Pick flowers or vegetables from your garden
- Send them a thoughtful note
There are so many ways to help others and so many ways we can consciously work to have good mental health. If you have any other great ideas that we can add to our list, please leave us a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!
Mental Health Support – seek help
Talk to a professional who knows how to help. If you are travelling or on the road, make a call to your local medical practitioner and arrange a TeleHealth appointment. Reach out to a counsellor or psychologist, or a government agency. Here are a few good ones you could start with: